The European Court of Auditors is one of the seven institutions of the EU, and arguably the most powerful. But what is it, and what does it do? We’ve found out and made it easy. Make a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy the crash course in European politics.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is the auditing body of the European Union. In the same way the United Kingdom has the National Audit Office, the EU has the ECA. The President is current Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira.
Within the ECA is one member from each EU country; the UK Representative is Phil Wynn Owen.
The ECA’s primary function is to make sure the EU gets value for money – the politics of the EU and value for money don’t come into play as it’s independent of the EU institutions. It can perform spot checks in the European Commission to make sure funds are being handled correctly, and can report suspected fraud and corruption to the European Anti-Fraud Office. Its findings are generally compiled into a report, which goes to the European Parliament. They then approve or reject the Commission’s handling of the budget, based on the ECA’s findings. It also communicated with policymakers about making spending more accountable to citizens.
It works primarily with the European Commission, as the Commission is the body that handles the most money, but also works with other institutions and national governments.
It takes part in three types of audit:
- Financial audits: making sure accounts are an accurate reflection of EU finances
- Compliance audits: checking financial transactions follow the rules
- Performance audits: ensuring EU funds achieve their goal in the most cost-effective way.
The ECA is split into three chambers, who fulfil these functions. Phil Wynn Owen sits in Chamber II. The membership of the ECA is approved by the Council of the European Union. The ECA is not a court, and has no judicial powers of its own.
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